If there’s one thing that we hear a lot about when it comes to hitting the highway, it’s the worries that people have when driving with the big rigs.
The big rigs are the 18-wheeler trucks that haul freight across the city, county, or country.
Truthfully, many companies would be lost without their drivers, and these 18-wheelers keep our economy going strong.
But that’s usually the last thing on your mind as you try to pass them at high speeds in busy traffic, silently saying a prayer and white-knuckling the steering wheel.
The Difference Between Us And Them: The Blind Spots
Do you know what the biggest hazard on the road is for an 18-wheeler? Construction? No. Poor weather conditions? Not really.
The biggest threat on the road to the big trucks is us, little guys. That’s right; other drivers in four-wheel cars.
Those who drive big trucks must go through training and have a special driver’s license. They are professional people who drive for a living and they know the rules of the road just as well, if not better than we do.
The problem isn’t as much with the drivers as it is with the truck itself. Big trucks do not have the same capabilities as a car.
Because of their size, big trucks have limited visual capability. Just as cars have blind spots, so do the big trucks; only they often have more. Seeing what is traveling beside them on the right is a big challenge as the blind spot on that side is large.
There was once an old traveling salesman who followed directly behind 18-wheeler trucks, believing that it would improve his gas mileage to be in the tailwind.
This worked well for many years, but the truth is, no one should travel directly behind a big truck. Again, the driver cannot see a car that positions itself that close in the rear.
Traveling right up to the front bumper of a big rig is dangerous for many reasons. Again, they have a difficult time stopping quickly, but when you tuck your car right in front of them, they might not be able to see you due to their long hoods.
Why You Need To Give Them Space: Safe Driving Tips
Aside from the blind-spot issues, it is in your best interest to stay away from the big rigs whenever possible.
Trucks are the biggest thing on the road. If your car crashes into a large truck, chances are he’ll sustain minor damage (if any) while you total your car and end up getting treated for injuries.
Plus, a rear-end collision can cause a truck to run right over a car, while a car who rear-ends a truck might slide right underneath the back. Neither has a pleasant outcome.
Because of their size and weight, large trucks cannot stop quickly when they see a commotion in front of them. Though they do their best to stop, it takes more time for the heavy rig to get to a slower speed and eventually cease to travel.
Big trucks can cause problems due to other reasons that car drivers need to understand. Large trucks can splash mud, water, or snow onto the windshield of a passing car, which can obstruct your vision.
Even one moment of blurred vision is enough to cause and accident, so stay clear of the big guys when the weather is poor.
More Safe Driving Tips
To keep yourself, and big rig drivers, safe, follow these safe driving tips:
- When at an intersection, do not pull to the right side of a truck who is making a right hand turn. Due to their size, they need more room and they make wider turns than a car does, and will often stay in the middle or adjacent lane when making a right turn. If you are in the right lane as they turn, you might find yourself getting crushed by the trailer. Keep yourself safe and just stay behind them.
- Sharing the road does not mean becoming traveling buddies. When you come up on an 18-wheeler, it is in everyone’s best interest that you part ways as quickly as possible. Pass as quickly as you can on the left and maintain a consistent speed until you are farther away from them. If they are coming up on you, move to the right lane and let them pass so that they can stay on track.
- Sometimes there are situations where you must travel close to a big truck, such as heavy traffic. In that case, do your best to stay out of blind spots and give the truck as much room as you can. Drive at a consistent speed without making any sudden moves. If you need to change lanes, be sure to put on your turn signal well in advance so the driver is aware of your intention and can make his own adjustments.
The most important thing you can do is to respect big rig drivers. They are not all perfect and they can make mistakes, just like you and me.
But if you play road games, display road rage, or flirt with disaster, you’ll probably end up in a pretty sticky situation.
So play it cool and give them room. We can all play nice together.
What Happens when Trucks Are Involved in an Accident
I’m not including these stats to scare the hell out of you, guys. But sometimes, a little bit of dread can help emphasize the dangers of getting involved in a truck-related accident.
I’m pulling up data in 2019 from this Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) report. IIHS uses research and evaluation to hopefully reduce deaths, injuries, and property damage from motor vehicle crashes.
First off, it was recorded that 11% percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2019 occurred in large truck crashes.
This includes a total of 4,119 individuals. Out of these deaths, 16% percent were truck occupants, while 67% percent were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles.
The other 15% percent are pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists.
That’s a glaring 67% for you, non-truck drivers out there. To add more to that, 97% of vehicle occupants that were killed in two-vehicle crashes involving a passenger vehicle and a large truck in 2019 were the occupants of the passenger vehicles.
If we compare these numbers in 2009’s lowest recorded number of truck crashes related deaths, you’ll see a 31% increase.
If you’re curious to know more, 47% of these large truck occupant deaths in 2019 occurred in crashes in which their vehicles rolled over. If we compare this to the 20% of occupant deaths involving cars, it’s almost 50% higher.
And although it’s only slightly higher than the percentage of SUV occupant deaths and pickup occupant deaths that occurred in rollover crashes, that’s still 47%.
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